We’re now ready to start framing the house. Over the last couple weeks, we’ve finished filling the shell of the house; backfilled around a portion of the foundation; seen the plumbing rough-in; set the insulation under some mesh and poured the final slab of polished concrete. We also had our septic guy, Mark, finish the system and I asked him to put in a curtain drain as well. It’s been a busy few weeks but now that the foundation and floor is done, we should see the framing go up in short order. Our contractor, Craig, has guided the process admirably thus far, very smoothly. I’m still enjoying puttering around helping out with a variety of jobs.
Well, it’s been a busy few weeks as we finished the site prep, got the footings done and foundation walls poured, box filled and compacted and perimeter drains set. I’ve had lots of fun working on this project so far and the guys have been very encouraging – although secretly I think they liking me help out as I can be the grunt on site.
Manuel, Manuelito and I finished the poles for about 450 metres of fencing and we’ll be stringing the wire in the next week or so. We had a bit of trouble with some of the posts as the augur drilled into a clay-like material which just kept sucking the bit down but after extracting a couple poles with the excavator, we managed to press on.
So part of my time thus far has been spent collecting names of reputable contractors, builders and service providers. Thus far, we’ve met with three builders, two interior designers, an alternate energy dude and an HVAC company. Tom and I visited the CVRD to discuss plans, zoning and environmental concerns. I’ve discussed grey water systems and had a fairly positive review of alternate septic options with VIHA/Island Health. Thus far, I have to say that most people I’ve (we’ve) dealt with have been great and it is making the decision making process difficult. I’m sure we’ll have dozens of meetings over the coming weeks and months but I think putting the time in to assemble a tight team is worth it.
Does anyone recommend local trades, suppliers, service providers and the like? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated! Onward we roll…
For the last four years, I’ve gathered photographs and ideas, jotted down pictures and book-marked websites, all in an effort to put some thought into our next big adventure – building a new house on the property. It’s now time to put pen to paper (or rather fingers to keyboard to CAD software) and start bringing this projection to life.
I plan to document things start to finish, successes and failures, trying times and exciting developments. My Dad told me once that he heard it took three ‘builds’ to get what one wants in a house and I think that is often true. I hope we can get it mostly right in one.
We have a few chief goals in this project. I’ll outline more details as we go along but the overall project will:
- suit our needs both now and well into our future
- be built, as much as possible, by local people, using local, sustainable materials
- feature alternate strategies (e.g. solar arrays, composting toilets, cistern systems, earth berms, drainpipe alternators, grey water treatment and recycling etc.)
- be constructed at a price which will allow others to realize that an innovative, energy efficient house can be build without requiring a massive budget
It should be a fun project so stay tuned!
Thanksgiving Monday saw us take the first step toward the Greening of Knight, our project to build a self-sustaining house, when we had a meeting with an architect keen to examine our project idea. He’ll remain anonymous for the immediate future as we haven’t finalized our working agreement yet and I am not sure if he will take on our project. Needless to say, both Josée and I were impressed with what he said, the options we might have going forward but most importantly the fact that he could identify with our project and be willing to think outside the proverbial box.
Over the last few months, I spoke with a number of architect firms and project designers. While some of them were interested in our project, I was disappointed that many of them looked at the negatives of such an endeavour; it will cost too much, the technology is not advanced enough, why not just use conventional construction strategies? Both Josée and I like to dream and think big – look at the glass half full, a world of opportunities! We plan to think through every idea and strategy, incorporate them into this house project then weed out what we can’t use or what is too expensive – it’s a sort of reverse engineering process, I guess!
Our first meeting basically consisted of us outlining some of the ideas we have regarding building styles, alternate energy systems, net zero construction, material types and sources and a draft timeline. We have no real idea where things will go from here but I suppose that is the topic for my next post. Stay tuned – more updates to follow as additional developments happen.
As many of you know, I’m quite interested in alternate energy, recycling and reclamation systems, self sufficiency and sustainability. My knowledge is growing but I have a long way to go. That said, I’m happy to announce that I’m starting a new section on my blog titled “The Greening of Knight.” Over the next two, three, four years (I don’t know the actual time frame), Josée and I hope to build a new house on our property. This project will have four pillars of construction:
- ENERGY: The house will be self-sufficient as regards energy consumption. We may use a combination of energy sources and systems: geothermal, solar, gravitational dynamos, wind. Both passive and active systems will be engaged. Our initial plan was to build an off grid residence but after additional consideration, it would be more of a challenge (which we relish) to build a grid-connected house, producing a regular surplus of energy which could be sold back to the grid. Obviously this will only work if proceeds from a sale would result in a cash rebate, rather than energy credits.
- COST: Over the past months, I’ve spoken with a number new home owners who were interested in non-conventional construction strategies but when confronted with the cost quickly turned tail and went with the status quo. This is an understandable decision. Our project needs will be designed such that it costs exactly zero dollars more per square foot than conventional construction. This is the only way that contractors, municipalities and other individuals will consider alternate construction methods as valid. In addition to an equal (or lower) construction cost, we will implement a cost recovery tracking system. I want to monitor our energy consumption in order to determine exactly when our benefit (energy production and re-sale) has exceeded our cost (implementing the systems).
- LOCAL: I feel it important to source materials locally and use local labour, local skills. I’m not sure if this is entirely feasible at this point but additional research over time should determine the viability of this requirement.
- IMPACT: We wish our project to have zero impact on our property. Some of the concepts we will implement include rainwater harvesting systems, grey water reclamation, radiant flooring heat (hey, the Romans had it!), on-demand geo or solar heated water and the list goes on. I’ll add more detail as we go but for the time being suffice it to say that the ideas come thick and fast – some practical and probable, some in-exact and borderline insane!
This journey will be an interesting challenge on several levels. The nay-sayers are out there; I’m bumped into a few already! Josée and I are quite excited about the possibilities, especially as we are in the brainstorming phase – no idea is a bad idea. In subsequent blog entries, I’ll write more on the professionals who will be helping us on the project. In the meantime, if you read this and want to join our team, please contact me. Stay tuned and if anyone has suggestions, ideas or input, please jot down a comment or email us.